SAN JOSE – The way the Western Conference and Pacific Division standings are stacking up, it’s unlikely both the San Jose Sharks and Calgary Flames will make it to the postseason. Naturally, that puts more emphasis on the head-to-head meetings.
On Saturday at SAP Center Sean Monahan scored just 24 seconds into overtime, giving Calgary a 4-3 win.
The Flames (24-18-3) drew to within three points of San Jose (24-16-6), with one game in hand.
The winning goal came after the Flames won an offensive zone draw, and Monahan got the rebound of a Mark Giordano backhander towards the crease.
After a forgettable first period, the Sharks scored three straight goals in the first nine minutes of the middle frame to go ahead, 3-2.
Logan Couture put the home team on the board with a wrist shot through rookie goalie Joni Ortio just 12 seconds after the second period puck drop.
The Sharks tied it on the power play at 2:40. Patrick Marleau set up Joe Pavelski in front of the net, and although Pavelski couldn’t whack it home, Joe Thornton was there to clean up the loose change in front of the net for his 10th goal.
Thornton is now just one goal from his season total of 11 in 2013-14.
Melker Karlsson put the Sharks ahead at the nine-minute mark. He drove the net and couldn’t get a stick on Pavelski’s centering feed, but the puck deflected in off of the 24-year-old’s skate. A brief video review confirmed that Karlsson didn’t purposely kick it in.
Calgary responded to tie it at 3-3 just two-and-a-half minutes later, when Jiri Hudler got free in the slot and whipped it past Antti Niemi, as Karlsson seemed to get lost a bit in a defensive zone.
The Sharks had the better of the scoring chances in the third period, but Marleau was denied on a breakaway with 10:53 to go. Later in the third, Marleau got free in the slot, but his shot was blocked by Giordano with 1:51 to go in regulation.
The Flames won their third straight, while ending the Sharks’ modest two-game winning streak.
The Harlem Globetrotters occupied SAP Center earlier in the day, and it looked like the Washington Generals changed into teal sweaters for the start of the hockey game.
Calgary took advantage of an uninspired first few minutes by the Sharks, jumping ahead 2-0. Dennis Wideman opened the scoring just 40 seconds into the game with a point shot through traffic, and Joe Colborne scored a shorthanded marker at 5:59, stripping Pavelski of the puck in the Flames’ offensive zone on an ill-advised pass by Brent Burns.
The Sharks rearranged their forward lines after the opening stanza, reuniting Pavelski and Thornton and moving Tommy Wingels back to the Couture-Marleau unit.
The Sharks and Flames will meet again on Feb. 4 at the Saddledome, and conclude their season series five nights later back in San Jose.
San Jose is now 1-0-1 on its season-long seven-game homestand.
The Sharks were 1-for-2 on the power play, and have scored one in each of their past three games. Calgary had not been shorthanded in either of its past two games.
The Flames failed to capitalize on their two advantages, the fourth straight game the Sharks have not allowed an opposing power play goal (11-for-11). The biggest kill came in the third period when Matt Tennyson was whistled for hooking at 9:33.
Colborne’s goal was the fourth shorthanded goal allowed by San Jose this season, and third scored by Calgary.
Niemi started for the 13th time in the last 15 games, including five in a row. He finished with 19 saves.
Ortio was making his third straight start, and third of the season after allowing just one goal in each of the last two games. He picked up the win with 19 saves on 22 shots.
Andrew Desjardins was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. On defense, the third pair rotation continued, as Scott Hannan replaced Matt Irwin after the veteran sat for four of the last six games, including Thursday against Toronto.
Calgary’s Mikael Backlund saw his four-game goal streak come to an end.
The Sharks will welcome the New Jersey Devils on Monday, in what will be Marty Havlat’s first game back in San Jose since he was bought out by the club in the offseason. San Jose beat the Devils in Newark on Oct. 18, 4-2.
Los Angeles visits on Wednesday in the final game before the All-Star break.
Watch Insider Kevin Kurz tonight before and after the Flames-Sharks game on Sharks Pregame Live and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet California.